The more I study the bible, the more complex and beautiful it becomes to me. I’ve got my favorite versus such as Matthew 9:20-22 (the woman with the issue of blood) and Luke 15:3-9 (the parable of the lost lamb) to name my favorites and the list grows with each day I spend studying.
As much as I love those verses, the more time I spend studying, the more I find myself getting confused by what I read.
I consider myself moderately well-read and after having to sit through an entire quarter of Elizabethan-era literature that was riddled with Spenser, I imagine that I can read and understand just about anything, but I still find those parts of the bible that just don’t make sense to me, even after I’ve read the commentary notes.
So tonight, I turned to my dear friend Google to seek some new notes that would expand upon what I was reading.
This got me thinking, however, about something I’d read online about someone being so offended that bible versions/translations existed that broke down the text to something as egregious as “Look, ya’ll. At first there was nothing and then God created heaven and then He turned around and made the earth.”
As the anglophile that I am, I too am disgusted by translations such as that, but as Christian, I’m not as opposed to it. The goal of the bible is to help spread the Word and having taught Sunday School for a while, I know only too well how difficult it is to get those who are not accustomed to Elizabethan English to understand what “‘Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?'” means. I know this also because I had a lot of difficulty understanding that verse and was driven to a Google search to find some real understanding.
While I dislike deterring from the original, I think it’s important to remember that even the King James Version is not the original Greek in which the New Testament was written and so it’s improper to say that this translation is better or worse than that one. Since the purpose of the bible is to spread the Word and save souls, why not put it in the “language” of those who need it? I suppose it’s the same as translating the bible into any hundred languages because it’s far better to translate it than to try to teach someone old English and then try to preach Christianity to them. The second hill is hard enough without adding a pre-cursor to it.
I wrote 687 words tonight (when he stayed with his grandparents), even after a rather abysmal day at first-job, but my mind’s not even focused on word counts this evening.
In reading, writing and studying tonight, I was reminded of a device or phrase or whatever that I’d often use when I was 20 and still lost that convinced me that the bible was fallible and that so was Christianity. I’d heard somewhere, most likely on TV, that there was some discussion by some people somewhere about whether or not the various translations had messed up whether Jesus actually walked on water. The discussion was that it was possible that the original word was the Jesus had actually walked beside the water, not on it, and I heard this and ran with it.
When I’d have lost discussions about religion with my friends this was the first thing that usually spilled from my mouth and I proclaimed this in complete ignorance of what I was saying. I know now that this was complete ignorance because, after actually reading through the gospels for the first time, I saw that any
idiot person who’d read the text would have a hard time believing that the translation was supposed to be “beside” the water. If Christ had walked beside the water, then on what boat did Peter leave to come out and stand on the water with Christ and then start to sink when his faith started to fail? If Christ was walking beside the water, then those in the boat would not have thought that he was a ghost and this really would not have been worth mentioning in any gospel. And yet, since I’d not ever read any of the gospels at that point, I was happy to wallow in my ignorance.
It wasn’t so long ago that I’d conferred with my fellow agnostics about what was or wasn’t true about the bible and it’s fascinating to look back on the person I was then versus now. I lacked direction and purpose and today I at least feel as if I’ve got both.